WASHINGTON — As the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the US, people nationwide are being encouraged to stay inside their homes, and states and cities are beginning to close restaurants, bars, and other businesses.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has a plan he thinks can help: Give every adult in the US $1,000.
“Every American adult should immediately receive $1,000 to help ensure families and workers can meet their short-term obligations and increase spending in the economy,” a press release from Romney said Monday. “Congress took similar action during the 2001 and 2008 recessions. While expansions of paid leave, unemployment insurance, and SNAP benefits [the program formally known as food stamps] are crucial, the check will help fill the gaps for Americans that may not quickly navigate different government options.”
The proposal to give every adult $1,000 is one of several put forth by Romney to try and address the pandemic — and was central to entrepreneur Andrew Yang’s Democratic presidential campaign.
Yang, who qualified for several debates before exiting the race last month, ran a campaign almost entirely focused on a universal basic income proposal that would give every American adult $1,000 per month.
Early Monday morning, ahead of the release of Romney’s proposal, Yang tweeted, “Putting money into people’s hands is the obvious thing to do in this situation. I hope Congress wakes up to this before it’s too late. Every day is enormous at this point.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, another Democrat running for president, has also called for all Americans to receive $1,000 per month for the remainder of the coronavirus crisis.
The House passed a bipartisan emergency coronavirus spending bill last week. The bill requires paid leave for some workers — though large companies of more than 500 employees are exempted — and provides increased nutrition benefits as well as free testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The package is supported by the White House and still needs to pass the Senate.
“We also urgently need to build on this legislation with additional action to help families and small businesses meet their short-term financial obligations, ease the financial burden on students entering the workforce, and protect health workers on the front lines and their patients by improving telehealth services,” Romney said in the statement from his office Monday. “I will be pushing these measures as Senate discussions continue about an additional relief package.”
In addition to the $1,000 checks, Romney is also proposing grants for small businesses, including “unexpected costs due to COVID-19” as part of the consideration for how much money students receive from Pell Grants, deferring loan repayment for students impacted by the disease, and requiring all insurers to temporarily cover telehealth visits.